Everyone knows solar panels can save you money, but where should they go?
First, let’s discuss location on a larger scale. There is no place in the United States where solar wouldn’t work. You might think you it is too rainy, too cold or you live too far north and don’t get enough sun but let’s drop those excuses.
There is no location that gets too much rain. Even in Seattle with 226 cloudy days and 38 inches of rainfall per year gets enough sun for solar panels to be worthwhile because solar panels will still produce electricity on cloudy days, just not as much as they would on sunny days.
Too far north is not a problem, but there are things to consider. Unless you are at the equator, solar is going to produce more power and in summer and less power in winter because of the angle of the sun and the amount of daylight hours. The further north you go, the more extreme this is. In Alaska, solar works great in the summer but it won’t do much in the winter. In the continental US, you will still get solar power in the winter and with most grid-tied systems you would be on yearly net metering billing with your electric company so it doesn’t really matter what month the power was produced.
Many people think solar panels don’t work when in the cold, but they actually work better when it’s cold out. Cold temperatures can increase solar production by as much as 10%. The other side of that is really hot temperatures will lower production by 10% but that still means your getting a lot of free power from the sun, so don’t sweat it.
So now that you know you are in the right geographic location for solar, let’s talk about where to install solar panels on a smaller scale. If you have a few acres of land you will probably have plenty of room for a ground mounted solar system. Even a half acre yard might have enough space that isn’t shaded by the house, depending on the layout. Ground mounts have advantages in that they are easier and safer to install (no lugging solar panels to the roof or worries about fall hazards) and you also have more options on orientation. You can check out our article on ground mounts vs roof mounts to get a better understanding of whether or not ground mounted solar is right for you.
If your yard is small, then your roof will be the best place for the solar panels. Solar panels facing south will produce the most power, so the ideal roof would face south, southeast or southwest. East and west facing solar panels will still produce a good amount of power so if that is the way your roof faces, go for it. Solar panels facing due north are going to produce about 40% – 50% less than one that faces south so you would need to consider things carefully before facing panels that way. There are some cases where the cost of electricity is high enough and the installation cost is low enough that north-facing panels make sense it is worth it to do the math.
If you are not sure about that math, you can read some of our other articles about solar panel orientation, system sizing and electric rates so you can get a better understanding of what to look at. You can also make it easy on yourself and call the experts at GoGreenSolar.com who can walk you through the whole process of deciding where your solar panels should go and how much money you can save.